Another Quick Update

My computer came yesterday, so I spent the evening assembling it (instead of writing blog posts >_> ). My old CD burner won’t fit into my new case, so I need to pick one up this morning, install some drivers, and then it should be fully operational!

Let me tell you about the Kalu’ak.
These walrus-men don’t inspire a lot of respect on first meeting.  I mean…bipedal walruses whose culture appears to be some kind of bizarre cross between Eskimo and Polynesian?  Give me a break.  (I didn’t cry during The Lion King.  Talking animals don’t really do it for me.)  My initial encounters with the Kalu’ak in the Fjord didn’t do a lot to change this impression.  They were obviously struggling to adapt an age-old lifestyle to a rapidly changing world, with the additional spice of Evil Afoot.  They got some quest help and I moved on to more interesting things.
This is the primary reason why I saved Moa’ki Harbor until the end of my time in the Dragonblight.  I was putting it off an unpleasant task.  (Walrus-men at war with raccoon-men…sorry, wolvar…does it get more ridiculous?)  Nevertheless, if I was going to rule out quests simply because I disliked the premise, I wasn’t going to get anywhere, so I trekked down to the harbor to see a walrus about a raccoon.
“The Dark One rides for again with his San’layn, the dragons fight their Nexus-war, and the Vrykul are reawakened.”- Elder Ko’nani
I blinked in surprise.  It turns out the Elder, at least, is not just a virtual proxy for a giant plush toy. (Unless maybe said toy is a Furby…those things were disturbing.  If you’ve ever had one fall over in your closet at 3am long after you forgot it was there, you’ll appreciate the full weight of that statement.)  He’s couching it in the terms of his people but he knows some bad stuff is going down in Northrend, and furthermore, he’s determined to protect his people from them.  It might not sound like much, but it’s a helluva lot more than could be said about, say, Staghelm, and he gets a lot more press.  As I arrive, the Kalu’ak of Dragonblight are preparing to flee, knowing full well that they won’t be more than a speedbump in the escalating carnage.
They’re struggling through the long winter like everyone else and they can use every pair of hands they can get.  Wolvar are stealing their supplies, emboldened perhaps by their leader’s priceless acquisition of pre-BC enchants on his fist weapons, and their lead fisherman is too old to swim after crab traps or haul a line anymore.  Certainly, he’s too old to defeat the cagey shark who’s ruining their traps.  Crabs are about my least favorite thing to kill in the game (my hunter has had a blue crab pet since level 12, or about 3.5 years real time), but it was for a good cause, so I rounded up the traps and killed a giant crab to lure the shark in.  Yea, food!
Things got more interesting when I went to talk to their shaman Toalu’u, who sent me on a vision quest.  He seemed to think Athorius would be unfamiliar with the concept, but as a druid who’s exalted with the Exodar (with corresponding experience in dream-realities and shamanism), Athorius took it in stride.  The Kalu’ak village of Indu’le has been destroyed.  Its inhabitants are all either dead or driven mad.  According to the giant statue I was sent to speak with, it was all the doing of the azure dragon’s crude attempts to redirect ley lines.  It was my thankless job for the next little while to kill unsuspecting spirits, still going about their daily tasks as though living, in order to release them to next world.  I’m really starting to hate the blue dragons.
The statue, Elder Mana’loa, then sent me to speak with their water goddess, Oacha’nea.  The name is kind of pretty so I expected something a little more classical, but it turns out she could be Lurker’s sister.  She tells me that the Kalu’ak must stay put or all will be lost for them.  Toalu’u’s words when I related events were haunting.  He told me his people believe that all souls are one with the magic of the world, and invited me to consider this in light of the azure dragonflight’s attempts to control all magic in Northrend.  (He also told me that I was “the one to save us from He Who Walks In Shadow” but if I had a copper for every time I’ve heard a variation on that line…)
At that point I was glad to be out of there, and eager to confront the dragons again. 
I found the second focus and killed a troll mage, trying not to think too hard about it.  Archmage Modera was impatient for the information.  She told me the third focus lay in Indu’le Village.  She made absolutely no mention of the tradgedy that had taken place there, though she had to be aware since she knew of the damage.  Dispassionately, she ordered me to search every crevice of the town, even in the lake if I had to.  Fresh from the disaster, if she’d been more than an image I would have been tempted to…do things unbecoming to my character.
I set out to return to the lake.  It was still, cold and dark.  Corpses floated around me in the murky waters.  The eruption of magic had woken water elementals along with destroying Indu’le, and the elementals had their revenge upon the mages.  It was hard to feel any sense of satisfaction knowing that many of the mages were at least as much victims as perpatrators.  I found the bloated shell of an elf mage and searched it for the focus.  At that point, I realized the power was flowing towards the Azure Dragonshrine, and ran to see what had happened.
I looked down into the vast hole and saw mages toiling around foci, several arcane needles, a lot of dragons, and a large pile of bones with enormous amounts of magic flowing around them.  I stared for a long moment, images of the much larger bones to the north and the necromancers in the Black Dragonshrine flashing through my head.  Then I turned my elekk hard and fled back to Star’s Rest. 
Finally, gratifyingly, a got a reaction from the archmage.  She was truly worried and directed me with all haste to Wyrmrest Temple to seek an audience with Alexstraza.  The letter she sent with me revealed Modera to be a “member of the six”, whatever that is. 
When I got to the temple, however, I found myself blocked by the diplomatic hopes of my own faction, of all things.  The alliance ambassador is insisting I do something to ingratiate the reds with the alliance before seeing the Queen.  (Because, seriously, I haven’t done enough already for them.)
Grrrr.  Will the stupid never cease?  No wonder the blues have gotten this far…
End of night tally: 115/115 Dragonblight, with half a chain of dragon goodness left to go.
Next Stop: Grizzly Hills

Quick Update

Finished Dragonblight as far as the achievement is concerned.  Still have some quests to mop up.  Write-up tomorrow.

Blog of Blog

I’m sorry about the late posting.  I was very tired last night, and between that and the cable being flaky, the post didn’t get written until today.  On the other hand, it should be a double-post day once I get done with questing tonight.  🙂
One of the things I really want to add to the posts are lots of pictures.  The topics really lend themselves to in-game photography.  So why aren’t there any at the moment?  Right now I’m borrowing my boyfriend’s brother’s laptop (say that three time fast) because my computer is dead as a doornail, and I’m trying to limit the amount of personal stuff I get all over it.  The good news is the parts for my new computer are shipping to me as I type and should be here tomorrow!  So once I get it up and running, expect these giant walls of text to be punctuated by some nice illustration.
I’m getting close to being done with Dragonblight.  I could potentially wrap it up tonight, in fact.  After that I’ll be heading into the Grizzly Hills.  I’m staying in Northrend because this task will only get easier the more I level, and because I do more than just quest (though that certainly occupies a large slice of my playtime).  My teensy guild wants to go to Naxx at the end of the month, and seeing as I’m one of only two healers in the guild at present, I’d feel horrible if I let them down.  So, by staying in Northrend I can kill two birds with one stone- getting XP and furthering my ambition to complete every quest in the game open to me.
Athorius is generally a pretty good person.  Sure, he screws up now and again, but he tries his best to do the right thing- not always a particularly easy accomplishment in the world he inhabits.  Even with the best of intentions, however, sometimes events are beyond control.
The evening started off innocently enough.  Following up on an earlier mission to rid the landscape of poisoned wildlife, he went to the root of the source, killed a bunch of cultists, and took their poison suits back to a rather fanatical night elf for destruction.  (Terror of Elune?  Closet DEHTA member?  The world may never know.  He gave her a wide berth.)  Athorius also found a loving note from a cultist leader to a student, explaining the teacher’s pride in his favorite pupil and immediately afterward promising destruction should the student fail him.  (No wonder they were dressed up like tier 3 warlocks.)  Eventually, he’ll have a meeting with this “cult leader”, but for now there were more pressing matters.
The madness of the azure dragonflight is difficult to ignore in the Dragonblight.  The archmagus at Star’s Rest asked him to go south and analyze a focus on the beach.  The catch was the focus’ control was in the hands of a human captain of the azure forces.  No big- he’s dealt with such things before.  However, while searching her remains for the control, he found a folded letter.  This captain, a mage of some power who called herself Em, wasn’t working for the dragons.  She’d been conscripted against her will when the dragons threatened her family, but she was doing all she could to undermine their efforts from inside at great personal risk.  She’d written the letter to her father in case of the worst.  And Athorius had just killed her in cold blood.
If that’s not a fist to the gut, I don’t know what is.
He got the information- there was no point in making the accident a total waste- and trekked back to Star’s Rest.  The archmage was completely uninterested in the letter.  In fact, the more time goes on, the less interested she seems in the dangerous consequences of the azure’s plots altogether- she seems to see it more in academic terms.  On top of that, she had the balls to ask Athorius to go out and do it again. 
Yes, that’s right.  There are other foci that need investigating, and other captains to be wantonly eradicated.
He’ll do it.  The azure dragons have to be thwarted.  But he’s not happy about it, and he didn’t have to do it today. 
Angry, sad, and frustrated, he went to take care of a few chore-like quests, clearing up kobolds and magnataur that were threatening an alliance encampment.  Along the way he ran into a trio of goblins.  Like most goblins, they were trying to make and sell anything they could dream up.  It seemed pretty innocuous at first.  He gathered up materials for them, killing all manner of dangerous creatures and scourge in the process, but as their demands continued he felt increasingly uneasy about the situation.  The goblins had made no secret of the fact that they were selling to the soldiers at the Wrathgate.  However, at least some of the merchandise was going to the horde to manufacture weapons.  Athorius doesnt’ hate the horde with the fervor of some- he honestly believes the only worthwhile solution to that conflict lies in diplomacy- but he’s also seen the devastation they’ve wreaked on many alliance outposts, and anyone who’s seen the encampments in Howling Fjord knows the forsaken are up to something.  The idea of helping them arm themselves, even in the shadow of the Wrathgate, soured his stomach.
Then there’s the fact that they’re goblins.  They became more candid with each request, and it became less certain that they were selling as opposed to exploiting their customers. 
When they ran out of errands, they sent him north to see another goblin, and this one was worse than the other three combined.  He was trying to concoct an elixir to help the ice giants fight off the jormungar worms, with the explicit purpose of gaining their trust in order to exploit a business opportunity later.  His motives were distasteful, but such an elixir would be useful to the giants, so Athorius helped him out.  Their leader, however, refused to trust the elixir (who could blame him?) and instead asked Athorius to slay the worm’s broodmother.
The goblin had another task as well.  He wants grubs to be captured alive to be used in Plan B.  As he put it, “When diplomacy fails, slavery is a perfectly viable alternative.”
End of night tally: 98/115 Dragonblight

If Wyrmrest Temple didn’t make it obvious, the Emerald Dragonflight are not the only ones suffering from reptilian psychosis.  Their Azure brethren are also round the bend, albeit in a more complex way.  (Though, ultimately, perhaps not as detrimental, but I’m biased.  I play a druid.  They’re fairly invested in Ysera’s nightmare.)

Tonight I began by doing my cooking daily, as per usual- there are a lot of recipes to buy!- and then I went and healed an Azjol-Nerub run.  I liked Azjol-Nerub the first time I was in there, but now it’s kind of…well, it’s better when people can mainly avoid taking damage when they’re supposedly DPS.  We’ll leave it there.

After that it was on to questing.

Home is in Wintergarde Keep.  I rode north and met up with a representative of the Argent Crusade, a rather intense crusader.  He kept staring at me like he thought I might be a secret agent of the scourge or something- like he was testing my loyalty.  It was almost more like the Scarlet Crusade than the Argent Dawn.  

Anyway, he had me kill some scourge trolls, and honestly regardless of his motives the world has to be better with a few less undead.  He sized me up and demanded I join his cause.  I did fly to Zul’Drak to complete the handoff quest, but I’m not quite ready to leave Dragonblight yet.  (And, frankly, Zul’drak creeps me out.  It should be an interesting zone, I will admit.)

Next I had some business in Star’s Rest.  

Star’s Rest looks to be a kaldorei camp that is additionally harboring an image of an archmage, who is trying to figure out what’s happening at a nearby burial ground.  The Azure Dragonflight busted open an enormous crater and installed a mechanism in order to tap into a major ley line.  This woke a lot of the highborne spirits buried there, and they are not happy.  While I was investigating the matter for the archmage I cleaned up a bit, killing off servants of the dragons and defeating a major arcane elemental, Arcanimus, that had also been awoken.

The azure dragonflight has been busy.  They’re cutting deals with the Ethereum, and messing with the Arcanomicon.  The Arcanomicon is a map of all the ley lines in Azeroth.  The azures have been systematically breaking into them and sending all the power into the Nexus, though the mage seems to think the power is flowing in the wrong direction at this site.

I’m interested to get back to this storyline tomorrow.  When the dragons are restless, I’m betting they spread it around.


End of night tally: 79/115

A Matter of Style

Everyone has a different approach to questing.  Some people track quests, others use auto tracking, and some like simply killing and clicking everything in sight until their log fills up with completes.  A paladin friend of mine never reads quest text, ever.  I read quest text obsessively.  Most people probably go it alone, while others use one or more of a variety of quest-related add-ons.


I really enjoy reading the quests.  This is the “story” portion of the game, and it’s the primary way I learned about the Warcraft universe.  So, I read every quest I come across thoroughly at least once.  It has the power to transform a quest that would be hideous without the story into something that’s enjoyable and memorable. (Druid epic flight form, I’m looking right at you.)  I say “at least once” because I also like playing my alts, and sure, I’ll pass on reading a quest I’ve already done a half million times.  There’s not really any point when I already know what it says.


What I do not enjoy, however, is wasting an hour looking for the right spot to do the quest, or the object I need to find for it.  With my sense of direction these mundane tasks can eat up a disproportionate amount of time.  Wrath has been better than BC and vanilla in this respect- many of the quests give detailed directions in their text, though it’s worth noting that these directions are very occasionally misleading or wrong.  I also don’t like wasting my time struggling with a bug or subtle gimmick, which has actually become more common in Wrath due to the much greater variety of quest models.  (That’s not a complaint- I love the variety- but it is a consequence.)  Therefore, I use a questing add-on.


When selecting add-ons, I look for several things.  First, the add-on has to do what I want it to do.  If I want help finding quest objects, an add-on that stores quest text or tells me the level of each quest doesn’t do a lot for me.  Secondly, I prefer add-ons that do what I want and not a whole lot more.  This makes them simpler to set up and interface with, and reduces their memory footprint (usually- ironically, the opposite is true of the quest mod I use!)  Thirdly, the add-on should be kept up-to-date by its author.  Anyone who uses a variety of add-ons can tell you that it really sucks when a mod you like and are used to is destroyed by neglect as the game progresses. 


My choice for questing is Lightheaded + TomTom.  TomTom is a small coordinate mod that enables the best feature of Lightheaded, which is the ability to add waypoints to your map and minimap at the location of your quest objectives.  (Note that you have to be in the same zone as the quest, because it places the waypoint in your current zone.)  It can also provide a floating arrow over your character’s head, showing the direction to a waypoint, but I prefer to keep this feature off. 


Lightheaded itself adds a second, sliding pane to the side of your quest log.  In this pane displays a kind of “mini-wowhead”.  It contains all the quest comments imported from wowhead, linked together, and coordinates are clickable to generate the aforementioned waypoints.  You can also click the quest giver and recipient names to get their coordinates.  The latest version allows you to search for quests in addition to displaying comments for quests in your log, and of course it shows if a quest is part of a chain and the other steps in the chain.


The reason why I like this mod so much is not only do I get the coordinates, I get context without having to tab out.  If I can’t get a vehicle to work, I can page through the comments right there and see if there is a solution.  I can read other people’s experiences and use them to my advantage. 


When I enter a new zone, I pick up as many quests as I can find, and then I put all their waypoints on my map.  From there it’s easy to plan out an efficient quest circuit.  Whenever I get a new quest I add it to my map.  I complete 8-10 quests at a time on average before I head back to base.  (I also keep my bags pretty empty when I set out so I don’t run out of room!)  I prefer to do the planning on my own, but other mods, like QuestHelper, do this for you as a feature, if that’s the kind of thing you like.


I quested for a long time without a mod, years in fact, so it’s not that I absolutely need this to succeed- I’m just not an opponent to making life easier.